The Urban Affairs Association’s 43rd Conference is taking place in San Francisco, 3rd-6th April. There will be three paper sessions on “the politics of urban policy circulation”, all on Friday 5th April. Details of these are below. You can search for the abstracts of the papers in this PDF document.

The politics of urban policy circulation

Summary: In this panel we seek to discuss the conceptual, empirical and methodological challenges of studying the city in the twenty first century and, more particularly,  to consider what it means to approach urban politics from a territorial/relational perspective. Drawing on work from across a number of disciplines, a group of critical urbanists  have begun to theorize the world urban system relationally through the study of urban policy travels and inter-city referencing (Peck and Theodore 2010, McCann and Ward 2011, Ong and Roy 2011, Bunnell et al. 2012). For instance, McCann and Ward (2011, 2012) have sought to advance a theoretical framework to study cities by focusing on how urban policy is co-constituted by both connections to other places and local political contestations. Policy actors are broadly defined to include (but are not restricted to) activists, politicians, policy professionals, practitioners, NGOs and consultants. This relational-territorial conceptualization of the urban raises a number of conceptual and methodological challenges for scholars interested in researching the construction of urban policy models and “best practices;” identifying the actors, agendas, institutions, and networks behind the circulating and mutating of policies; as well as in their many and variety of contestations. Moreover, the widespread travels of urban policies originating in the South such as Porto Alegre’s participatory budgeting, Curitiba’s and Bogotá’s urban transportation innovations or Singapore’s green policies and urban design practices has made the current transnational traffic of policy knowledge and ideas of the “good city” much more complex than a simple North-to-South transfer.


Session 1: Mobilizing people and policies (10:55am)

Moderator: Sergio Montero (University of California, Berkeley)

  • Constructing relational urbanism: Urban policy mobility and the role of conference space
    Cristina Temenos (Simon Fraser University) [pdf of presentation here]
  • The politics of urban strategies and visions: Following the global-local ‘value chain’
    Nathan Marom (University of California, Berkeley)
  • Constructing Bogotá’s Ciclovía: From urban experiment to international “best practice”
    Sergio Montero (University of California, Berkeley)
  • The context of mobility: How the international concept of Bus Rapid Transit was implemented in South Africa
    Astrid Wood (University College London)
  • It’s all in the framing:  A case study of Bus Rapid Transit traveling from Bogota, Colombia to Jinan, China
    Alainna Thomas (University of California, Berkeley)

Session 2: Eco-cities and sustainable urbanism (2:05pm)

Moderator: I-Chun Catherine Chang (University of Minnesota)

  • Chinese eco-cities: Transnational connections and domestic failure
    I-Chun Catherine Chang (University of Minnesota)
  • Sustainable territories: Transnational expertise and the politics of green development in China
    Jia-Ching Chen (University of California, Berkeley)
  • Exporting Swedish best-practice sustainable development to China
    Anna Hult (KTH – Royal Institute of Technology)
  • Globalizing “best practice” in sustainable urban planning and design: The role of precedent studies and study tours
    Elizabeth Rapoport (University College London)

Session 3: Planning and redevelopment (4:05pm)

Moderator: Kevin Ward (University of Manchester)

  • Urban plans, global imaginations: ‘Worlding’ Sydney via metropolitan planning
    Thomas Baker (University of Newcastle), Kristian Ruming (Macquarie University) [pdf of presentation here]
  • Made in Singapore? How Singapore’s policy ‘factory’ is more complex (and contradictory) than it might seem
    Jason Luger (King’s College London)
  • Instrumented Cities? A Critical Analysis of IBM’s Smarter Cities Initiatives
    Donald McNeill (University of Western Sydney)
  • Urban policy circulation and the politics of revitalization: The Calgary Municipal Lands Corporation and the “East Village Experience”
    Andrew Shmuely (University of British Columbia)
  • Financing urban redevelopment: The policy mobilities and immobilities of the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) model
    Kevin Ward (University of Manchester)